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White House insists Trump's disclosures 'wholly appropriate'

17 Mai 2017

It is now evident that the highly secret, "code only" information our incompetent president, Donald Trump gave to the Russians came to us on a sharing basis from Israel. "What the president discussed with the foreign minister was wholly appropriate to that conversation and is consistent with the routine sharing of information between the president any leaders with whom he's engaged", McMaster said in a White House briefing.

Trump repeatedly called during his campaign for improved United States relations with Russian Federation, damaged by years of disagreement over Russia's role in Ukraine and its backing for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In the meeting with the Russian ambassador and foreign minister, Mr Trump disclosed intelligence about an Islamic State group terrorist plot. It's unclear whether the USA informed the Israelis it might share the information with the Russians, who have different allies in the region - notably Iran. He will visit Saudi Arabia, Israel and Europe. USA and European Union officials more recently have discussed expanding the ban to include flights from Europe. USA officials worry that the disclosure of the information will do serious harm to relations with the ally in question. The New York Times first reported that Israel was the source of the information.

McMaster on Monday night denied that Trump had revealed the intelligence sources and methods used to glean this information.

As we debate Trump's just-revealed disclosure, we would all do well to differentiate between what's legal and what's advisable. So the President determines the system of designating classified information through Executive Order, and he is entitled to depart from it at will. Trump spent the campaign arguing that his opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, should be locked up for careless handling of classified information. This information included the name of the city where some of the intelligence had been collected.

Speaking to reporters ahead of a closed-door U.N. Security Council meeting on the missile launch, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley also made clear that Washington would only talk to North Korea once it halted its nuclear program. These include the Espionage Act and Identities Protection Act. Coming days before Trump's first trip overseas, it also raised questions about his standing with world leaders and led some countries to start second-guessing their own intelligence-sharing agreements with the U.S. "He wasn't briefed on the source and method of the information either".

The two top Republicans in Congress, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, were muted in their response to Trump giving information to Russian Federation. These countries share vast amounts of information and promise not to spy on each other.

A spokesperson for U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, declined to comment.

"If this produces that problem-and that's the extreme worry here-then the president is much less effective, the US government is much less effective, than it otherwise would be", he added. Even sharing limited amounts of intelligence about terrorist targets with Russian Federation, in Syria for example, has been the source of major controversy in the past.

Russian Federation is allied with both Syria and Iran, two of Israel's long-term enemies.

How have past presidents handled these issues? Because, according to The New York Times, "sharing the information without the express permission of the ally who provided it was a major breach of espionage etiquette, and could jeopardize a crucial intelligence-sharing relationship".

Congressional investigators are expected to seek copies of any notes taken during the meeting, a congressional source said. Yet there are no season finales to tie things together in the White House, and Trump's lapses of judgment will have real-life, global consequences.

But Lt Gen McMaster also appeared to acknowledge that Mr Thomas P Bossert, assistant to the president for homeland security and counter-terrorism, had called the CIA and the National Security Agency after the meeting with the Russian officials.

Even when intelligence is declassified, the government typically keeps secret the ways it acquired the intelligence. Perhaps this is why, as the NY TImes revealed, new National Security Advisor General McMaster has heavily participated in Trump's meetings with foreign leaders and diplomats.

But intelligence experts say it's not that simple.